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Poster: dead-head_Monte Date: Nov 26, 2011 6:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What happened? -- Bear's tape deck was stolen!

re: Bear's stolen tape deck - When was it Stolen?

Owsley "Bear" Stanley interview with David Gans on 1991-01-13 - (This item is a former taper (me) taping a tape of another former-taper (Bear) who's being taped when talking about taping GD. It's part of Monte's Taper Handbook) • I transcribed a few exchanges from the top of part 1 from Bear's interview w/ David Gans in Jan 1991: At the start, Gans says: I always got the impression that you almost mixed more for those tapes than for the halls sometimes. Bear's Choice is a pretty excellent balance of stuff. Bear says: I never paid attention to the tape... I would put on headphones... I would listen to the tape in order to make sure there was enough guitar and bass... which wasn't being amplified by the PA. I made sure that it was balanced. Gans: How did you get those things on tape? You used a separate mix? Bear: It would be mic'd and they went into the tape recorder. The tape recorder that I used always had a separate pair of mic inputs. It had a mic on each channel as well as a line on each channel. Gans: So you put the stereo house feed in, and on the mic inputs you run Jerry's guitar and Phil's bass? Bear: Yeh Gans: Just a mic on each one's amp? Bear: Yeh... There was no presence otherwise. Gans, You didn't pan them? Bear: No. I never panned anything... Then he talks about vocals for a moment, and then about The Fillmore's equipment and taping. Then a few minutes later Bear mentions he had a Sony 770 model reel-to-reel stereo tape recorder that was stolen by "some kid". He said it was stolen from Alembic's location when they were over on Judah Street. "It was never seen again," Bear says.

Bear's main tape deck was stolen from Alembic - after February 1970 - but when? Three paragraphs below are part of the Alembic History "Forward" written by Susan Wickersham. I urge people to note what Bear said to me about Rick Turner and Alembic's start-up. (In September 2009, Bear and myself had an e-mail conversation about Ampex, Ron Wickersham, and Alembic's formation.)

Susan Wickersham writes: "In February 1970 Alembic moved to 320 Judah Street, San Francisco. We were a small but potent company. There was Ron Wickersham and myself as the owners and design team. Then we hired John Curl, another engineer, Jim Furman, a former geometry teacher (later started Furman Sound Co.), as Ron's technician. "Kid" Candelario, "Sparkie" Mark Raizene and Steve Parrish were hired as roadies for the PA and recording equipment. These three later became part of the Grateful Dead road crew. There was a joke at the time that you had to do time at Alembic before you got on the Dead road crew. John Cutler, who currently does the mixing for the Dead, worked for and received much of his training from us. Frank Fuller was the head of our instrument repair section with Rick Turner working with him. We worked mainly on custom basses and refining the process of our electronics package. Through our instrument repair division combined with Ron's knowledge of physics, we worked on improving the structural integrity of instruments as well as the electronic and sustain characteristics of instruments. David Crosby's 12-string Guild guitar and Phil Lesh's Guild bass were among the first complete renovations we did. Phil's bass featured the first quadrophonic electronics. "Gee Ron, do I really need 20 knobs on my bass?" Ask anyone who heard Phil play it and you'll get an emphatic "yes!" Live recording and PA work was a large part of our company during this period. We recorded "Workingman's Dead", "ACE" (Bobby Weir), Garcia's "Wheel" and the New Riders of the Purple Sage to name a few. Alembic became a Corporation in the summer of 1970. Ron invited Bob Matthews and Rick Turner to participate in the company and gave them both equal stock to encourage them in this newest endeavor."

Bear modified his Sony model 770 stereo tape recorder's connector panel
Bear "knocked out" the RCA connectors and replaced them with larger, more-rugged ¼" phone jacks

Bear says: It was an extremely good one (his stolen tape deck). In fact, most Sony equipment in those days was hissy. That particular one wasn't. I had knocked out the RCA inputs and installed quarter-inch phone jacks for inputs, so it was rugged...

Sony model 770 stereo reel-to-reel tape recorder - this model tape deck used by Bear was stolen

Then Bear goes on to discuss how he also "mixed for sound" by using visual cues from an oscilloscope's presentation of audio waveforms displayed on a cathode ray tube. In order to demonstrate, below is the spectrograph of Bear speaking about his tape deck getting stolen. His sentence is four seconds in duration. Cue up Bear-Gans interview to Track One, 6:04.

(Bear-Gans interview -Track One - 6:04 is start of sentence; 6:08 is end of sentence)

Bear says "Some kid nicked mine out of Alembic when they were over on Judah Street"
Samplitude s/w audio waveform of Bear speaking about his tape deck being stolen

Re: WoS prototype(s) first being used in 1973.

Winterland - NYE - 12.31.72 - single mics on vocals

The way I understand it, once Bear and Ron Wickersham worked out the usage of dual anti-phased mics for the vocals - to eliminate feedback, that was the birth of the wall of sound. The rest of the mics and pickups could always have their feedback signals managed and eliminated. Getting the singers and sound engineers to agree to "eat the one mic only" must have taken lots of courage. The mics were spread 60 mm apart. The wall of sound was built around this signal cancellation principle, and it evolved from there. The mics the Dead used for the WoS were wired for 180-degrees phase-cancellation.

earliest photos showing anti-phased mics and birth of the wall of sound

Here's the theory for the vocal mic pairs used in the evolving prototype WoS (1973) and the WoS (1974). They are chosen and used in anti-phased (opposite-phased) mic pairs, spread 60 mm apart, and setup for feedback cancellation. Ron Wickersham desribes in detail many of these parameters. I can show you how simple the wiring and hookup configuration is. I would also make sure that both mic cables in each pair are exactly the same length. Balanced audio lines are used to create the differential signals that get summed together to eliminate feedback. Here's how to connect them using XLR connectors.


Pin 1 is always chassis "ground" or the cable shield. The normal-phased mics get wired with pin 2 as "hot" signal and pin 3 as "cold" signal. The opposite-phased mics get wired with pin 2 as "cold" signal and pin 3 as "hot" signal. Normally the sound signals (feedback from the WoS) are input at exactly the same level into both mics. These mic signals then get summed together. The result is always zero signal. You are adding together equal and opposite signals. This always causes signal cancellation. Each vocalist must "eat" just one mic only when singing into his/her vocal mic. This vocal source is now a single mic output, and does not get cancelled out. But when the singer moves 12 inches away and sings for example, it is almost all cancelling out. It can be tricky to use. Singers must be able to learn how to eat just one mic. It takes some time getting used to it.

This post was modified by dead-head_Monte on 2011-11-26 14:36:34

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Nov 23, 2011 10:13am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What happened? -- Bear's tape deck was stolen!

Thanks for the photos of the mics. I knew 12/31/72 was too early for the new mics! The WOS concept was developed gradually through 1973 as the Dead kept constantly upgrading.

Bear tells another story, which may be of the Vanderbilt show:
"I had to recruit some of the kids from this college that we were playing that gig to carry the stuff back. Two of them took half our PA and split. At the next show, there's no PA. I said, 'I sent it to the truck.' A crew member picked me up and threw me into a water cooler."